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Gamecocks looking for a solid line

You might have heard about South Carolina’s offensive line taking longer than a French wine to come of age during Steve Spurrier’s first three seasons in Columbia.

But the Gamecocks have been moving around their chess pieces this summer to try to speed up the process for season No. 4.

Jarriel King, a stud defensive tackle at Georgia Military College, qualified academically and immediately was slotted at left tackle. Jamon Meredith, a three-year starter and NFL prospect at left tackle, has taken snaps at guard. Hutch Eckerson is getting reps at both tackle spots.

How will it all shake out?

With about two weeks remaining before the N.C. State opener, USC coach Steve Spurrier said only two of the line positions have been locked up: Justin Sorensen at right tackle and Heath Batchelor at right guard.

Third-year players Garrett Anderson and Seaver Brown continue to fight it out at center. Lemuel Jeanpierre has a shaky hold on the left guard spot, while King and Spring Valley graduate Quintin Richardson are emerging as the top candidates at left tackle.

Offensive line coach John Hunt talks a lot about getting his five best linemen on the field, even if it means players changing positions. That’s the thinking behind Meredith getting a look at guard.

Meredith, currently sidelined with an ankle injury, must sit out the first two games in return for the NCAA restoring a year of eligibility (Meredith played three snaps against Vanderbilt as a freshman in 2004).

Don’t be surprised if Meredith returns from his hiatus and takes over at left guard, assuming the Gamecocks are in good shape at left tackle. Just a hunch, but look for Anderson to be the choice at center.

And for all the hype that accompanied King’s long-awaited arrival on campus, it could be Richardson who wins the job protecting Tommy Beecher’s blind side.

The 6-foot-4, 289-pound Richardson said he absorbed a lot during his redshirt year – a learning process King could benefit from since it’s been four years since he last played on offense.

“That redshirt year, I took in a lot,” Richardson said Tuesday. “But playing on Saturdays is a lot different than playing on Fridays.”

Richardson called college football a “faster game” than high school. Meanwhile, Gamecock fans hope this line comes together faster that its predecessors.